by Jamaica Kincaid
Girl Theme of Society and Class
Class and social standing have been around since back when someone had way more shiny rocks than everyone else. In "Girl," it's not just shiny rocks—it's the color of your skin, the quality of your table setting, and the evenness of your hem. In a colonial Antigua where British culture is valued over the native one, Antiguans of African decent like Kincaid, and so we assume Girl too, are already at the bottom of the hierarchy. One more rung down and they are out of the game. In "Girl," it seems dead easy to lose your social standing—and a lot harder to pick it back up. So, should we be listening to Mom's advice—or, like Kincaid, leaving the game entirely?
Questions About Society and Class
- What kind of relationship does Girl have with society? Society with Girl? Does Girl seem like she's going to fit in with her society?
- How does "Girl" suggest that its culture determines social status? How much of social status is fixed, and how much is determined by how you behave?
- What do sluts and wharf-rat boys have in common in "Girl?" What makes them both unacceptable?
Chew on This
Kincaid suggests that society is based around policing behavior. In "Girl," someone is always watching.
In the game of society that "Girl" depicts, Girl is destined to lose.